It Is...With Me! is a classic example of Pop Art. It was painted in 1963, at the moment of Lichtenstein's most profound and witty investigation of popular imagery. The acute stylization of line and color, the extreme close-up, and the parodic play with standard clichs of male and female are all features typical of Lichtenstein's best pictures from the early 1960s.
Lichtenstein said repeatedly that he was attracted by the strong stylization of comic books. In particular, he was fascinated by the disjunction between their exaggerated emotional content and the rigid conventionality of their style. "I was very excited about, and interested in, the highly emotional content yet detached, impersonal handling of love, hate, war, etc., in these cartoon images... It is an intensification, a stylistic intensification of the excitement which the subject matter has for me; but the style is, as you say, cool. One of the things a cartoon does is to express violent emotion and passion in a completely mechanical and removed style" (quoted in J. Coplans, op. cit., pp. 53 and 55). As he told Diane Waldman, "The strength of a comic, when it is blown up and when you look at it closely and at its possibilities, became a ready-made way of doing everything I wanted to do" (quoted in D. Waldman, Roy Lichtenstein, London, 1971, p. 25).
In the process of blowing-up and transforming his sources, Lichtenstein emphasized even more the heavy stylization of comic book art. Lichtenstein wanted his pictures to be even less naturalistic than the comic books he imitated; and he wanted to increase his paintings' referentiality to modes of art, especially high art, rather than to the natural world. Lichtenstein was fascinated with extreme expressions of stylization at either end of the high/low axis of visual culture; in his work, he tended to connect and blur the distinctions between the extremes. Hence, when he made versions of Mondrian and Picasso, he made them look more like cartoons. And when he made versions of comic book art, he made them look more formalized, hard-edged and pure.
It Is...With Me! is also a classic example of Lichtenstein's playful satire of the conventional depiction of gender roles in American society. The two protagonists are clichs, from the make-believe world of popular culture. The romantic narrative they partake in is so standardized, so shallow, so well-known, that even the merest signs suffice to identify them.
In 1963 Lichtenstein said he was "anti-contemplative, anti-nuance, anti-getting-away-from-the-tyranny-of-the-rectangle, anti-movement and -light, anti-mystery, anti-paint-quality, anti-Zen, and anti all those brilliant ideas of preceding movements which everyone understands so thoroughly" (quoted in J. Coplans, op. cit., p. 53). He told Diane Waldman he painted Pop subject matter because, "My subjects are important to me personally. They add a joy and bravura and irreverence which I need" (quoted in D. Waldman, op. cit., 1981, p. 26).